Monday, December 22, 2008

Pim’s 34, or more

A look ahead to an all A-League squad

WITH the Asian Cup qualifiers fast approaching (the first game in Jakarta is just over a month away, on January 28) and Pim Verbeek at this stage indicating he will be using a team largely comprised of A-League players, it’s time to run the rule over those local players that should be at the forefront of his thoughts.

Word over the past fortnight has been that Verbeek is working towards finalising 34 A-League names for the camp that begins on January 19, and as we’ve seen over the past year or so, he is likely to keep everyone on their toes as he clocks up as many frequent flyer points as Santa Claus over the next few weeks.

Like the man in the big red suit, Verbeek will come bearing gifts, so for these 34 players, and possibly more, it’s time to behave…

Goalkeepers (4)

Vukovic, Galekovic, Velaphi, Theoklitos

With Schwarzer not getting any younger, there is a real need to start grooming a few for the future, post South Africa, and the Asian Cup qualifiers offer that perfect opportunity, between the sticks and beyond. So far only Federici has really grabbed an opportunity (he was outstanding at the Olympics), while Vukovic and Velaphi appear to be the best of the local kids. Vukovic isn’t flying, but he would be number one local at this stage – groom him in the Asian Cup qualifiers and let him punch it out with the likes of Federici, Velaphi and possibly Van Strattan, who will get the chance to showcase his stuff next season. Not much between Theoklitos and Covic for a squad spot at this stage.

Defenders (11)

Ognenovski, Moore, Costanzo, Jamieson, DeVere, Tarek Elrich, Vargas, Matt Thompson, Durante, Adam Griffiths, Kantarovski

About four or five months ago I remember writing that Ognenovski shouldn’t yet be considered for the Socceroos because of his propensity to get the ball, look up and invariably knock a long diagonal ball to no-one. Gotta say, his continuing solid work in defence is starting to over-shadow his distribution deficiencies, which would be exposed at a higher level. With questions about whether Moore (depending on his illness) and North (off to South Korea) will be available, Ognenovski comes right into the mix, possibly even alongside his United teammate Costanzo. One man who should definitely be in an A-League 11 is Jamieson, arguably the find of the season. On the other side, the younger Elrich has caught the eye, while if Verbeek is looking for experience in that area, only Adam Griffiths offers it. One to watch down that side is the kid Mullen, son of Adelaide great Joe, who has really caught the eye in the past couple of months. Ditto Kantarovski, who could soon force his way into Pim’s thoughts, if he isn’t there already. Another youngster impressing is the Roar’s DeVere, who is calm and appears to be learning quickly. On current form, it’s too hard to have Thwaite, but it’s good to see Topor-Stanley and Milligan bounce back over the past couple of months, and both could keep pressing. Plenty of options in central defence, so someone like Iain Fyfe would be unlucky to miss a squad like this. Others in the mix might be CCM’s Porter and Bojic, but the lack of Mariners consistency of late might cost them.

Midfielders (12)

Reid, Jedinak, Caceres, Pellegrino, Dodd, Celeski, Murdocca, McKay, Hutchinson, Barbiero, Zullo, McKain

There has been some great work in midfield this season, right through the league. Even at Perth the likes of Pellegrino and Coyne has been excellent, while Srhoj has been good for the past month. For consistency, the Mass and Matt Show deserve to be in an all-A-League squad at least. Reid, Dodd and Barbiero have been wonderful for the Reds both in the A-League and beyond, while Caceres is one of the very few A-League midfielders with that x-factor, and has proved he can be very effective centrally. While there are more central midfielders than wide men in the above 12, there is enough width with the likes of Dodd, Pellegrino, Zullo and Caceres. While Ernie Merrick has unnecessarily turned Celeski into a defensive man-marking midfielder this season, Verbeek may recognise his ability to get forward, just as we saw at the Olympics. Jedinak stands out as the obvious holder, while Reid should be nearby. Musialik, like most of his team-mates, would be lucky to feature. If Pim wants a couple of attacking bolters, keep an eye on Nichols and Minniecon.

Strikers (7)

Archie Thompson, Joel Griffiths, Rukavystya, Macallister, Simon, Petrovski, Allsopp

Sadly, on current form, it is almost impossible to have Sydney’s Aloisi, Bridge and Brosque in an all A-League 11, let alone in a squad of 34, so it’ll be fascinating to see how Verbeek handles it. The obvious ones making waves are Macallister and Rukavytsya, who may get a starting chance if Verbeek goes with a front three, but that would probably mean there is no room for a wide man like Dodd, who has to be in an 11 on current form. The pace of Thompson, Griffiths and Rukavystya is tantalising, but if Verbeek feels that Indonesian might defend deep, he may be tempted to go with a big man like Macallister, and get others around him. Petrovski should still be in the squad mix given we don’t really have another player of his ilk that can drop off and create things, but his, Allsopp’s and Simon’s chances could depend on what Verbeek does with Aloisi and Bridge.

An A-League 11

So after all that, it’s time to whittle down the above names into an 11, and on current form (it will no doubt change by the time the first qualifier comes around, and I’ll be sure to update this selection closer to the game), and assuming North and Holland are unavailable, here’s one…

--------------------Vukovic------------------
----------------------------------------------
A Griffiths----Moore--Ognenovski-----Jamieson
-------------------------------------------------
--------------------Jedinak--------------------
Dodd---------------Reid------------Caceres
-----------------------------------------------
---------Thompson------J Griffiths--------

In case I don’t get the chance to get back on the blog before the year is out, thanks all for your ongoing interest in The Round Ball Analyst throughout what has been a hectic 2008. I do hope you have a wonderful Christmas and that your football brings you plenty of joy in 2009. May I just spare a brief moment to indulge in two wishes for the new year; safe passage to South Africa without the need for any sudden-death heart-stoppers, and a premier league title for Liverpool.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony, given your views on here that Muscat runs the league, I can only imagine you weren't surprised at the punishment handed out to him on Friday?

Thanks for another great year of round ball posts. In my view the original blogger is still the best.

One point though - we, or at least I, want more.

Cheers and Merry Xmas
BC

Tue. Dec. 23, 08:38:00 am AEDT  
Blogger Bill said...

I'm really looking forward to this Indonesia game to see what the A-Leaguers can do on an international stage. This is how I think they could line up, in a 433:

-----------Theoklitos-----------
Elrich--Vargas--Ognenovski-Jamieson
-----------Jedinak--------------
-------Dodd---------Caceres--------
J. Griffiths---Simon----Thompson

Bench:

Vukovic
Moore
Pellegrino
Reid
Rukavytsya (or Macallister)

Tue. Dec. 23, 10:17:00 am AEDT  
Blogger Hamish said...

Merry Christmas to you Tony. Thanks for all your writing this year.

Seeing Moore and Oggy in the center of your defense brought back memories of Roar's last season. It's a formidable pair.

If Moore can play, and is showing basic form, he must play, to run the defense as well as participate in the center. I think Pim is aware of this.

Wed. Dec. 24, 01:39:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger Mike Salter said...

Nice piece Tony.

My hypothetical team, posted elsewhere, was:

---------------Theo---------------
Elrich----Moore------Og----Jamieson
Dodd------Jedi----McKay--M.Thompson
---------Griff-----Ruka------------

Yep, the other Thompson. ;-) I don't think Archie's form of late has been sufficient to deserve a spot in the first XI, while the two midfield Matts in there have been so consistent lately (even putting aside Thompson's hat-trick against the Victory) that I think they're worth a guernsey.

Wed. Dec. 24, 09:21:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger Mike Salter said...

...and before I forget, a very Happy Xmas to you and the family Tony. See you in the SFS press box (or maybe at the JWC) some time in the New Year!!

Wed. Dec. 24, 09:22:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger ENZO said...

Hello from Spain!
great job! great blog!
i like it!
i´ll visit it more times. i wait you in my blog, and i hope you give there your comment.
See you!

Sat. Dec. 27, 09:10:00 am AEDT  
Blogger Balls of Fury said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Thu. Jan. 01, 11:25:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger FuryBlogger said...

Can't wait till this game will be good to see how they go.

Agree with most of the lineup except I would put Galekovic or Theoklitos in for Vuko and also add Ruka in there somewhere.

Good Read.

Thu. Jan. 01, 11:31:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

Thanks all for your comments and happy new year to all...too kind BC...

Welcome aboard to Bill, Enzo and Fury Blogger, thanks for your interest...and to Mike, Hamish and BC for your ongoing interest...may '09 be grand to you all...

Already things have changed re Indonesia with Jedinak off o/s and maybe Ognenovski as well...could be a very different team...looking fwd to updating it closer to the game...

Sat. Jan. 03, 10:27:00 pm AEDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read Pim Verbeek will picking 24on Monday. What's your take Tony?

Thu. Jan. 15, 07:23:00 am AEDT  

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